September 18, 2019 04:31 PM
(ABC 6 News) - Organizations from all across Minnesota have gathered at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester this week to work on solutions to state-wide issues with homelessness.
"It’s almost like pain. Until you've experienced it, you can't really empathize what someone has been through,” Nichelle said.
Nichelle asked that ABC 6 News conceal her last name. She fled from domestic violence, but being disabled and unable to keep up with her bills, Nichelle became homeless.
"When you're used to being able to provide and stand on your own two feet when you have to depend on others for shelter, it can be a great downer," Nichelle said.
Wednesday was the second day of the annual homelessness conference in Rochester. Representatives from the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless said the conference is just one part of the advocacy they do state-wide.
"We go to the state capital and we talk to legislators," Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless Director of Organizing, Matt Traynor said.
Minnesota's Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency said more than $2 million is available to improve the homeless communities around the state through the River Valley’s Continuum of Care (CoC) account.
"If we win on money to prevent homelessness, end homelessness, that actually funnels down to local programs,” Traynor said.
Funding like that has helped Nichelle get back on her feet. She's now paying it forward as a volunteer and advocate for the homeless.
"I've been volunteering on several committees,” Nichelle said. “So as a community representative I bring the perspective on what's going on in the community as well as lived experience."
Nichelle said she’s doing what she can to make sure everyone has a place to call home.
Nichelle also said a lack of affordable housing has impacted the number of homeless people across Minnesota.
Locally, the city of Rochester is trying to build more affordable apartment units across town and nail down an official spot for its new warming center this winter to help those who are homeless.
Updated: September 18, 2019 04:31 PM
Created: September 18, 2019 01:20 PM
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